Trump Administration Suspends Flights of Chinese Airlines To U.S.

by Miles Jackson

The Trump administration suspended flights by Chinese passenger airlines to the U.S., according to a Department of Transportation order released Wednesday. In the DOT order, in which the U.S. suspends China flights, the Trump Administration accuses China of failing to honor the terms of a September, 1980 bilateral agreement. In that agreement both countries agree “[T]he operation of the agreed services by the designated airline(s) on routes over third countries shall be conducted on routes available to the airlines of both Parties, unless otherwise agreed.“ [emphasis mine

U.S. Suspends China Flights

UPDATE: The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has lifted the total ban of Chinese Airlines flying to the United States. They have restricted flights by about 50%. China responded to the DOT order with its own list of demands. In short, these demands could make it impossible for U.S. passenger carriers to operate even with limited services.  According to China’s response, if five or more passengers on a flight test positive on arrival in China, that airline will be banned from flying into the country for one week. Furthermore, if 10 or more people test positive, the ban for that air carrier increases to four weeks.  

The U.S. DOT action is clearly a retaliation against the Chinese government who previously had restricted U.S. airlines from flying to China.

According to the DOT order, the Chinese government’s failure to approve flight schedules for U.S. carriers is a violation of “bilateral rights” to resume routes to China.

Chinese aviation authorities issued a decision March 26 that limited foreign carriers to one flight per week to China.

For Delta, their SkyTeam partner, China Eastern, is affected. This makes the fifth Delta SkyTeam alliance partner to face either a financial catastrophe or serious impediment to operations. The other four partners are Alitalia, LATAM, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

Alitalia has been taken over by the Italian government. LATAM recently filed for bankruptcy and Virgin Atlantic has cancelled flights as a result of the UK’s announced mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors. Virgin Australia is in a battle for its life in Australia against Qantas.

In May, the Trump administration charged mainland China (PRC) of making it impossible for U.S. carriers to fly to China. The U.S. then demanded that four Chinese airlines file flight schedules with the U.S. government.

Since that demand, Chinese carriers have continued flying to the U.S.

Chinese Airlines Continue Flights to U.S.

Chinese Airlines Continue Flights to U.S.

Meanwhile no U.S. airline operates these flights, though Delta and United have sought to file flights to resume China service this month.

The Trump administration’s restrictions will take effect June 16 or earlier, according to the text of the order.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion the DOT’s actions are absolutely in line with fairness of access between the two nations. It’s clear that China has dealt with the U.S. airlines in a one-sided manner. China allows their carriers to fly between the U.S. and China, but refuses to allow the U.S. carriers to do the same. I believe that the administration had no other options that the DOT order in which the U.S. suspends China flights.

People are looking towards the re-opening of Europe as potential short-term destinations, as Asia becomes more riddled with barriers to travel.

China; it’s your move!


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